Amer­ica’s Cup to ditch cata­ma­rans in favour of mono­hulls

The Myanmar Times - - Sport -

FAST, foil­ing cata­ma­rans are out of the Amer­ica’s Cup and mono­hulls are back in.

Amer­ica’s Cup cham­pion Emi­rates Team New Zealand con­firmed Mon­day that it is work­ing on de­signs for a “high-per­for­mance” sin­gle-hulled boat to be used in the 36th edi­tion of sail­ing’s mar­quee re­gatta in Auck­land in early 2021.

The Ki­wis did not say whether the boats will have foils or cant­ing keels. More de­tails were promised at the end of the month.

Team New Zealand re­leased a state­ment af­ter Ital­ian bil­lion­aire Pa­trizio Bertelli, boss of the Ital­ian Chal­lenger of Record Luna Rossa and CEO of Prada, told La Stampa that the next re­gatta will be sailed in mono­hulls as a con­di­tion of his group help­ing the cash-strapped Ki­wis in the 35th Amer­ica’s Cup.

The Ki­wis said a team of de­sign­ers, led by de­sign co­or­di­na­tor Dan Ber­nasconi, is “work­ing on var­i­ous ex­cit­ing mono­hull con­cepts which will even­tu­ally help shape the AC36 Class Rule.”

The Ki­wis added that they have been con­sult­ing with a num­ber of po­ten­tial chal­lengers “and there is an over­all de­sire to have a spec­tac­u­lar mono­hull yacht that will be ex­cit­ing to match race, but also one that the pub­lic and sailors can re­late to as a sail boat that re­ally chal­lenges a full crew of pro­fes­sional yachts­men around the race track.”

Foil­ing is all the rage in sail­ing. It made its Amer­ica’s Cup de­but on San Fran­cisco Bay in 2013, when the Ki­wis blew an 8-1 lead to Or­a­cle Team USA in a show­down of 72-foot cata­ma­rans. The boats were re­duced to 50 feet for the 2017 Amer­ica’s Cup. Team New Zealand hit on a re­mark­able de­sign pack­age and wrested the old­est tro­phy in in­ter­na­tional sports from the Amer­i­can-backed team in June on Ber­muda’s Great Sound.

When the cats hit a cer­tain speed, they’d rise up on foils on the lee­ward dag­ger­board and both rud­ders, lift­ing the hulls com­pletely out of the wa­ter to re­duce drag and in­crease speed. In Ber­muda, they hit speeds ap­proach­ing 50 mph. In a few races, crews made it all the way around the course with­out the hulls touch­ing down.

While the cata­ma­rans aided Cup or­gan­is­ers’ quest to make it a more TV-friendly sport, there was grum­bling from tra­di­tion­al­ists that the com­pe­ti­tion was a drag race that elim­i­nated most match-rac­ing tac­tics. There also were com­plaints that only a few crew­men ac­tu­ally sailed the boats while the ma­jor­ity of the crew turned the winches that pow­ered the hy­draulic sys­tems used to trim the wing­sails and raise and lower the dag­ger­boards. Crews were re­duced from 11 in 2013 to six this year.

There was the thought that re­turn­ing to mono­hulls would be a step back­ward, es­pe­cially since the Ki­wis have the world’s best ap­par­ent wind sailor, helms­man Peter Burl­ing, and had hit on in­no­va­tive de­sign el­e­ments that would have given them a strong ad­van­tage in the next re­gatta.

But the re­turn to mono­hulls could in­crease the num­ber of chal­lengers. Some had stepped away be­cause of dis­agree­ments over the boats and other rules, and be­cause tech bil­lion­aire Larry El­li­son, owner of Or­a­cle Team USA, had such a strong grip on the event.

With Or­a­cle no longer hold­ing the tro­phy, it’s ex­pected that mul­ti­ple Amer­i­can syndicates will emerge, as well as for­mer Amer­ica’s Cup main­stays like Aus­tralia. It’s unclear whether El­li­son will con­tinue on. He helped back teams from Ja­pan and France in the 2017 re­gatta.

Two of Team New Zealand’s bright­est stars, Burl­ing and wing trim­mer Blair Tuke, will sail in the Volvo Ocean Race be­gin­ning Oct 22. The round-the­world clas­sic will be sailed in 65-foot mono­hulls. The VOR will shift to foilas­sisted boats for the 2019-20 race.

The last time mono­hulls were used in the Amer­ica’s Cup was 2007. They were plod­ding com­pared to the cata­ma­rans.

In 2010, af­ter a bit­ter court case be­tween El­li­son and Swiss bil­lion­aire Ernesto Bertarelli led to a one-off show­down, Or­a­cle Team USA sailed a mas­sive tri­maran to vic­tory over Alinghi’s equally huge cata­ma­ran. El­li­son and his top sail­ing lieu­tenant, Rus­sell Coutts, then forged on with their vi­sion to con­test the Cup in cata­ma­rans.

Bertelli told La Stampa that the mono­hulls for 2021 “will be very pow­er­ful boats.”

He also said there will be some form of a na­tion­al­ity rule.

Af­ter an Aus­tralian syn­di­cate dropped out as Chal­lenger of Record for the 35th Amer­ica’s Cup, most of the re­main­ing chal­lengers agreed to an unprecedented mid­course down­size in the boats. Luna Rossa an­grily with­drew. Team New Zealand also was angry about the change, but stayed in and re­ceived man­power and badly needed cash from the Ital­ians. – AP

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